New iPhone Model Left Behind In Redwood Bar

You can bet that someone, somewhere, is a very unhappy ex-Apple employee now that one of the company's prototype next-generation iPhones was lost (and found) in a Redwood City bar. Whoever found the device (they're understandably laying low) turned it over to Gizmodo, which has spent a significant chunk of time disassembling the device, snapping photos, comparing its internal components to current-generation Apple iPhones, and documenting the various changes. The prototype phone includes the following changes/features:
  • Improved back-facing camera
  • Front-facing video camera
  • Improved Display (possibly with a resolution of 960x460, though this seems an unlikely resolution)
  • Possible secondary microphone
  • Split volume buttons
  • Micro-sim card similar to the iPad's.
  • Integrated camera flash

Here's a picture of the two devices lined up side-by-side; it's obvious that this new phone would be a significant departure from the current generation of iPhones. The new phone looks as though it might be ever-so-slightly taller than the current model, but is possibly thinner—it's hard to eyeball the net effect on the phone's internal volume since the current model uses a rounded case while the next-gen iPhone is squared off. This is precisely the sort of situation where we'd normally be coughing and making finger quotes at the idea that this is a next-generation iPhone, but Gizmodo's own research into the phone's authenticity is extremely compelling. Put simply, there are a great many reasons to think this phone is real, which raises the question of when, exactly, we might see these devices on the market.

One thing I'm particularly curious about is how the iPhone will continue to evolve now that the iPad is on the market. The two devices serve different needs, but not necessarily different customers; the fact that AT&T charges $60 for a combined iPhone+iPad data connection undoubtedly has some Apple customers eyeing the question of whether or not they can switch to either a cheap non-smartphone cell model or get along on just an iPad + VoIP technology. It sounds as though this new phone will definitely keep the iPhone fresh and interesting even in the face of its larger cousin. Gizmodo hasn't confirmed, but we expect there'll be an A4 CPU at the heart of the beast. We wouldn't necessarily take a lot away from that—the smart bet is currently on the A4 being nothing more than an ARM Cortex A8 with a cut-down I/O package—but with Apple, hardware updates are only a small part of the picture.

Unfortunately, Apple killed the iPhone with a remote update (one reason not to want one, period), but Gizmodo has videos and a number of comparison photos available. Previous iPhones have debuted high-end models above $300—with the iPad now available, we could see a lower-priced model at launch.
Tags:  Apple, iPhone, ipad, a4, iPhone 4G